The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase funding for transportation services for foster children and families.
The board voted unanimously to increase funding for HopSkipDrive, a ride-hailing service the county uses to transport foster kids, by $237,231.
Emerald Perkins, a foster mother with five foster children and two biological children in her home, asked the board to approve the HopSkipDrive unding increase because it will help keep families connected while separated by the child welfare system - saying that it's "sometimes the only way (the children) they're able to see their siblings."
She explained to the board that three of her foster children come from a biological family of five siblings, two of whom live elsewhere.
"As it stands right now, the three boys that I have in my care - I live in Gilroy - they go to school all the way in San Jose," Perkins said. "HopSkipDrive picks them up in the morning, takes them to school, picks them up in the afternoon, and that is where they're able to see their sister."
However, she said the service is only available for a month for her children, and "after that we're left to figure it out."
She said by increasing the funding for the transportation service, "it allows for these children to stay in their school of origin so that when they reunify with their parents, they're still going to the same school."
Before the board voted Tuesday to fund a new total of $505,432 from the previous $268,201, Bob Menicocci, the director of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, said "sustainability is a question for us" regarding the transportation service, but that increasing the funding will help foster families with a quickness.
"What we're able to do with this is get this service out there immediately," Menicocci said. "That's not to say that we're also not engaging with our resource families around other options, but this is the most expedited way to at least get that service out there. It's also flexible in terms of funding."